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UMAYYAD CALIPHATE

Mu'awiya ibn Abi Sufyan
AH 41-60 / AD 661-680


                AR Drachm (4.12 g, 30mm, 3). Arab-Sasanian type.

      Mint: Fasa in Darajbird (Fars) province.
      Struck: AH 54-55 / AD 674-675.
      Obv: Crowned bust right imitating Sasanian king Khosrau II;
                Pahlavi GDH 'pzwt ("may his splendor increase") to left,
                Pahlavi MYYAWYA AMYR/WYRWYShNYKAN ("Mu'awiya,
                commander of the believers") to right; all within double ring;
                pellet above star-in-crescents flanking and below (the latter
                flanked by two ∴); Pahlavi bism Allah ("in the name of God")
                to lower right.
      Rev: Fire altar with attendants; crescent and star flanking
                flames, Pahlavi sychl (43 [date]) to left, Pahlavi DAP (mint
                abbreviation) to right; all within triple ring; star-in-
                crescents flanking, above, and below; MY monogram to
                upper left.
      Ref: SICA 1, 269 var. (position of monogram on reverse);
                Walker, Arab-Sasanian 35 var. (same); Album 14.

Notes: Mu'awiya was the fifth Islamic caliph, and the founder (and first caliph) of the Umayyad dynasty. He was born circa AD 600 into the powerful Banu Abd-Shams clan of the Quraysh tribe This tribe controlled Mecca, and opposed Muhammad until the latter captured the city in AD 630. It is debated today whether Mu'awiya converted to Islam before or after this event. Nevertheless, Mu'awiya joined Muhammad thereafter, and served as one of Muhammad's scribes. In AD 640, he was made the governor of Syria by the second caliph, 'Umar ibn al-Khattab, and built a considerable base of support throughout the region. This base of support was both political and military, the latter being of such strength that his forces repulsed a major Byzantine campaign in AD 647. Bolstered by this success, Mu'awiya went on the offensive, capturing Cyprus in AD 649 and Rhodes in AD 654. He also defeated the Byzantine navy off Lycia in AD 655. This warfare ceased upon the assassination of the third caliph, 'Uthman ibn 'Affan, who was Mu'awiya's uncle. 'Uthman had appointed many of his kin as governors and to other official posts, angering a number of other groups, mostly the followers of Ali ibn Abu Talib (the Shi'ites), who viewed his actions as nepotism. Eventually a group of soldiers from Egypt attempted to force 'Uthman to replace his governor there, but killed him when he refused. The Muslims who were disaffected by 'Uthman promoted Ali as the next caliph, but Mu'awiya refused to acknowledge Ali, whom he viewed as an accomplice to his uncle's murder. These events led to a civil war within the caliphate, primarily between Ali (the Shi'ites) and Mu'awiya (the Sunnis), but also involving small groups who had differing views on the succession and other legal issues. One of these, the Kharijites, initially supported Ali, but turned against him when he agreed to settle the succession question by an arbitration of scholars rather than the traditional force-of-arms. The Kharijites plotted to assassinate both leaders, but only succeeded in killing Ali. Ali's son, Hasan, initially continued to oppose Mu'awiya, but the latter's forces grew stronger while Hasan's weakened. Hasan soon came to terms with Mu'awiya, who assumed the caliphate with little opposition in AD 666. Mu'awiya quickly consolidated his power, moving the capital of the caliphate from Medina to his captial in Damascus, and establishing a centralized bureaucracy. His government and military eventually rivaled that of the Byzantines, and his territory stretched from Egypt to Iran. Mu'awiya died on 6 May AD 680, and was succeeded by his son, Yazid. While his immediate legacy was the establishment of a strong dynastic caliphate, this is overshadowed by his opposition to the caliphate of Ali, an action that was the precipitating event of the Sunni-Shi'ite split that remains to the present day.


temp. Yazd I ibn Mu'awiya
AH 60-64 / AD 680-683


                AR Drachm (3.88 g, 32mm, 9). Arab-Sasanian type.

      Mint: Basra; Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, governor.
      Struck: Dated AH 61 (AD 680/1).
      Obv: Crowned bust right imitating Sasanian king Khosrau II;
                Pahlavi GDH 'pzwt ("may his splendor increase") to left,
                Pahlavi AWBYTALA/Y ZAYATAN ("Ubayd Allah bin Ziyad")
                to right; all within double ring; pellet above star-in-crescents
                flanking and below; Pahlavi bism Allah ("in the name of
                God") and four pellets to lower right.
      Rev: Fire altar with attendants; crescent and star flanking
                flames, Pahlavi AYWKWŠST (61 [date]) to left, Pahlavi
                BCRA (mint abbreviation) to right; all within triple ring;
                star-in-crescents flanking, above, and below.
      Ref: SICA 1, 77-86; Walker, Arab-Sasanian 85-6; Album 12.

Notes: Yazd I was the son of Mu'awiya, and the second caliph of the Umayyads, and the sixth caliph overall. This coin was struck by his governor of Basra and Kufa, Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad. Ubayd Allah was responsible for the organization and nominal command of the Umayyad army that fought against the forces of Hussein ibn Ali at the battle of Karbala. The battle occurred on 10 Muharram 61 AH (9 or 10 October 680 AD), during the year in which this coin was minted.